Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures (1979)
Years ago, I was standing in a record store, getting ready to purchase what would become one of my favourite records of all time. The good news is that I bought a copy of Unknown Pleasures. The bad news is that I bought a cassette copy instead of the vinyl! That was an epic mistake. I remember listening to a Doctor Deadwax video on Youtube where he reported a similar experience. If I remember correctly, he had a copy of a Flock of Seagulls LP in one hand and a vinyl copy of Unknown Pleasures in the other, and he walked out with the former. That was another epic mistake.
So, my first copy of this record was on cassette. I later picked up an early-80s pressing of this on vinyl. As much as I'd like to have an original pressing, it's not critical. I think the recent 180 gram reissues (from the original master tapes) are good quality too, and those can be had for under $25.
When I purchased the cassette tape, I had only heard She's Lost Control, but I was immediately enamored with Disorder, which may still be my favourite Joy Division track. This record may well be the greatest debut record of all time.
Allmisic says this: "...the ten songs inside, quite simply, are stone-cold landmarks, the whole album a monument to passion, energy, and cathartic despair."
And then there is this statement, none of which can be argued against by any serious music fan: "Pick any song: the nervous death dance of "She's Lost Control"; the harrowing call for release "New Dawn Fades," all four members in perfect sync; the romance in hell of "Shadowplay"; "Insight" and its nervous drive toward some sort of apocalypse. All visceral, all emotional, all theatrical, all perfect -- one of the best albums ever." [source] I couldn't agree more and I couldn't have said it better.
Unknown Pleasures deserves praise for the jacket as well. It's a brilliant example of minimal, understated design. This record is simply fantastic, a real classic, a true desert island disc.
Some time ago, I watched this live show by Peter Hook and the Light. Man, did they ever nail the sound. But, I have to say that I am not in love with Peter's vocals. Still, you should watch it.